from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An aromatic gum resin obtained from African and Asian trees of the genus Boswellia and used chiefly as incense and in perfumes.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A type of incense obtained from the Boswellia thurifera tree.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A fragrant, aromatic resin, or gum resin, burned as an incense in religious rites or for medicinal fumigation. The best kinds now come from East Indian trees, of the genus Boswellia; a commoner sort, from the Norway spruce (Abies excelsa) and other coniferous trees. The frankincense of the ancient Jews is still unidentified.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An aromatic gum resin yielded by trees of the genus Boswellia, much used from ancient times, especially for burning as incense in religious observances. See olibanum. Also called gum thus.
  • n. Hence2, Some other resin resembling olibanum in any way.
  • n. The principal trees yielding resinous exudations known as frankincense are: Boswellia Carterii (see Boswellia)
  • n. the Norway spruce, Abies Picea;
  • n. the loblolly-pine, Pinus Tæda (see frankincense, 2); and
  • n. Styrax punctata (see Styrax).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an aromatic gum resin obtained from various Arabian or East African trees; formerly valued for worship and for embalming and fumigation


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English frank encens, from Old French franc encens : franc, free, pure; see frank1 + encens, incense; see incense2.


  • Jesus has to send child support payments in frankincense and myrrh.


  • Today, frankincense is still widely used in religious services, and also in fumigants and perfumes.

    An old chestnut, re-roasted

  • Actually, frankincense is the hardened resin of trees of the genus Boswellia, which grow in north-eastern Africa and Arabia.

    An old chestnut, re-roasted

  • Historically, the hill of frankincense is Calvary, where, "through the eternal Spirit He offered Himself"; the mountain of myrrh is His embalmment (Joh 19: 39) till the resurrection "daybreak."

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

  • Add boswellia aka frankincense at 1,000 mg a day and willow bark so you get 120 to 240 mg of the active component called salicin, which is also, by the way, the active component of aspirin—we like the aspirin itself.

    You Being Beautiful

  • A minimalist, cubist interpretation of incense, a touch of spices, powdery orris, dry cedar wood and ambergris, supporting the frankincense, that is rich, crisp, red and intense.

    The Desert King: Tauer Perfumes Incense Extreme

  • Monkey brought frankincense, which is a gift of air and spirit.

    Yatima » 2008 » December

  • Arabian frankincense, the frankincense par excellence, is the aromatical resin of Boswellia sacra, a tree which grows in southern Arabia (Arab. luban); B. papyrifera of Abyssinia yields African frankincense, which is also good.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 12: Philip II-Reuss

  • It is also on the great altar that the Chaldaeans burn the frankincense, which is offered to the amount of a thousand talents 'weight, every year, at the festival of the god.

    Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

  • By frankincense, which is burnt before God, the power of prayer is intended, as in the Psalms, "Let my speech come before thee as incense."

    Catena Aurea - Gospel of Matthew


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  • "On the demise of the dictator Sulla in 79 B.C., after a slow and hideous death caused by worms devouring his flesh, an effigy of cinnamon was constructed in his image. 'It is said that the women contributed such a vast bulk of spices for the interment that, aside from what was carried on two hundred and ten litters, there was enough to make a large figure of Sulla, and that an image of a lictor (staff bearer) was molded from expensive frankincense and cinnamon.'"

    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 148

    Another usage/historical note can be found on mephitic. And on balsam. And galbanum. And a nice translated primary source from ca. 900 on perfumer.

    December 2, 2016

  • Meanwhile, over in the NY Times "Styles' section, resident perfume critic Chandler Burr is dipping into the mushrooms again. On the perfume "2 Man" he writes -

    The perfumer Mark Buxton built the upper decks of this sleekest of vessels out of C11 ISO, a synthetic molecule that smells of clean pressed fire, if you can imagine such a thing; the pine-scented synthetic C12 MNA; and a high-quality natural Haitian vetiver that smells like dust on jungle trees. But the hull is frankincense from Oman, an incense cool as cream, warm as onion-skin stationery, glossy and slick as a traffic light in the rain. This technically flawless perfume (it diffuses like radium) smells more beautiful than one can say, like a perfect chord in an empty echo chamber. Herodotus warned that frankincense was dangerous to harvest because poisonous snakes lived in the Arabian trees that contained it, and I do believe my first reaction to 2 Man was, in part, fear.

    (I do believe that my first reaction to one of Chandler's reviews was also, in part, fear. Combined with an overwhelming desire to confiscate all of his dictionaries and reference books)

    December 16, 2007